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All the world’s a page…

Today is World Book Day, a fact I was made aware of by Audrey, who went to school dressed as a witch, (her class are all being Harry Potter characters for the day) as part of the global celebration of all things literary.

Obviously I’m going to cynically use this as an excuse to promote Stories In Green Ink, the anthology containing my first published works of short fiction (written as Guy Thair)

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…ahead of the second collection featuring another one of my stories, which should be out later this month.

But I’m also going to take the opportunity to recommend a few of my (possibly rather predictable) all time favourite book series, starting with one that is soon to make its long-awaited appearance at the movies.

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Stephen King’s Dark Tower series is an extraordinarily ambitious and groundbreaking epic that defies classification.
It takes a classic western theme and mixes it with elements of thriller, mystery, fantasy, horror and sci-fi, resulting in a deeply satisfying and unique tale that takes the reader on a thrilling journey that manages to combine our world and that of the anti-hero, Roland, the last Gunslinger in a way that is natural and seamless.
Many people have told me they hadn’t read the books “because I don’t like horror stories”, but King is so much more than a horror writer and if you appreciate a fantastic story that’s beautifully written then I urge you to enter the world of the Dark Tower, I promise you won’t regret it.

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I know I’ve enthused about the genius of Douglas Adams on many occasions, but this is simply because I cannot praise him enough.
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy books are without doubt some of the funniest I’ve ever read (even after reading them over a dozen times, they still make me laugh out loud) and the story of Arthur Dent and his adventures in Adams’ surreal universe are endlessly inventive and thought-provoking.

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I couldn’t possibly talk about books without once again plugging the awesome Terry Pratchett and his hugely popular and influential Discworld™ series.
Terry has been compared to writers as diverse as P.G. Wodehouse and Jonathan Swift; his talent for taking everyday situations and familiar stereotypes and relocating them to his own version of the universe enables him to discuss important social issues and intellectual concepts in a way that is not only accessible but hilarious, with a wit and warmth that very few authors have ever achieved.

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And finally, a series of which many of you may never have heard; G.W. Dahlquist’s Glass Books of the Dream Eaters trilogy.
“Steampunk” covers a wide range of styles, but I think the Glass Books series epitomizes the genre; a faux-Victorian setting, a rollicking adventure, dark humour, a creeping sense of dread, erotic undertones and mysteriously advanced technologies being put to sinister use, Dahlquist crams all this and more into his books, which follow three wildly differing protagonists who have to rely on each other to foil the dastardly plans of some truly despicable villains.

So there is my contribution to World Book Day, I hope you are sufficiently tempted by my choices that you go and seek out at least one of my recommendations. With nearly fifty titles to choose from, it should be a while before you need to top up your book pile.

To play us out, who else but Elvis Costello and the 1983 classic, Every Day I Write The Book.

 

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Just Jot It January: Day fourteen…

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As we reach the end of week two of Just Jot It January, it occurs to me (after reading some of the other posts that follow today’s prompt; “motivation”) that there are almost as many reasons for writing a blog as there are bloggers writing them.

I suppose it isn’t all that surprising, given the fact that everyone is unique and we all want something different from life, which explains why everyone has their own personal set of criteria for what makes blogging worthwhile.

For now though, I’m more interested in finding out why one blogger in particular chooses to do what they do.

Namely, me.

Because, if I’m honest, I really have no idea.

The only reason I’ve decided to break my self-imposed rule to try this month’s challenge without resorting to Linda G Hill’s prompts, is that I have been asked several times recently why I write, or what “inspires” me to do so, and I realised that it’s not something I’ve ever really thought about.

I had little or no interest in the internet until the arrival of smartphones, but as soon as I got my hands on the first primitive version of this incredible, science fiction-like pocket computer that we all now take for granted, I was hooked almost immediately.
And my first addiction was Facebook.

Initially, the nostalgic novelty of being able to reconnect with old school friends was enough to suck me into the social network, but after it became clear that I could communicate with an endless supply of other users, all over the world, people I’d never even heard of before, let alone met, I began to really have fun.

I have always loved language; the way words work, the etymology of communication and the way sentences seem to just flow when they spill from the word processor, typewriter or pen of certain writers.
The way that writers like Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett could turn an everyday phrase into a comedic gem by adding a couple (or a few) extra words, words that didn’t strictly need to be there, but oh, you were glad of their understanding of what gave those extra words power.
The way that those little black marks on a page can form pictures in your head fascinated me, even as a child, but it had just never occurred to me to try to translate that wonder into pictures of my own.

But once I began to write smartass comments on Facebook and construct little rants and memes of my own, mainly for my own entertainment, I found the idea of having a platform of my own, from which I could address the vast expanse of the Weird Wide Web, increasingly attractive.
This first dabbling in virtual creativity coincided with my introduction by a  mutual friend to the extraordinarily talented blogger, author, globetrotting urban explorer and all round bohemian, Mr Darmon Richter, who encouraged and assisted me in making my bumbling way into the blogosphere.

Meanwhile, WordPress made the process of getting started an idiot-proof experience, even for someone with my Olympian level of idiocy with all things internet related and Diary of an Internet Nobody was born.

And then I started writing stuff down. I didn’t know any better.

As anyone who knows me personally will tell you, I can talk.
And talk.
So, with an audience of, theoretically, several billion, I just started writing what I’d say if I was talking to you, (until you surreptitiously looked at your watch and mumbled about needing to be somewhere, anywhere, urgently) I didn’t see the point of having a theme, my reasoning was; I’m not an expert on anything, I’ll just say whatever comes into my head and see if anyone listens.

Then fiction came along.
Well, it had been there before, I’d read bloody loads of it.
But this time I thought I’d do it from the sharp end, so to speak.*

Then I stumbled upon Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompts and I thought I’d have a go at doing them all as short stories.
Which is where I get to the point where it all gets a bit vague, because from the first time I sat down to write a story, it was, umm, well, it was easy.

I know that sounds smug and immodest, but I don’t know how else to explain it.
My very first attempt was prompted by;
” “ke.”  Use the letter combination at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of the word you choose to base your post on…”
And this came to me, literally as I wrote it.
I was quite pleased, despite the fact a few people didn’t get it (you might need to read it twice) and every other story I’ve written, with the exception of The Wrong Stuff (which I had a rough idea about for the first post and then decided it would be fun to see where it went on its own) has been pretty much the same way, with varying levels of success.
Including having three stories published in an anthology, available on Amazon AT THIS LINK, just in case I’d forgotten to mention that.

None of which comes anywhere close to tackling “motivation” I’m afraid, but then I did tell you at the start that I had no idea.

* – I read this a few times and I know it doesn’t work as an analogy, but I still like it.

#JusJoJan

Pingback to Linda G Hill.

 

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